djsoliloquy: ([AC] other worlds than these)
DJ ([personal profile] djsoliloquy) wrote2011-07-22 04:06 pm

Bleeding Effect (Assassin's Creed | Ezio, Altair/Malik, ensemble)

A couple weeks ago [ profile] sadlygrove was kind enough to assure me this wasn’t too weird to post. Thank you darling~ and I shouldn't be held responsible for the weirdness of my fic if HBO can't be bothered to show something other than Inception all summer.  

someday a proper crossover

Title: Bleeding Effect
Author: [ profile] djsoliloquy 
Fandom: Assassin’s Creed.
Rating: PG-13 that yearns to be a pirate
Characters/Pairings: Ezio, Altaïr/Malik, ensemble.
Summary: Ezio remembers—or possibly dreams—a particularly intimate moment of Altaïr’s life. And then it gets strange.

Ezio remembers.

He has some authority in his dreams. He knows they aren’t real, that possibly they never could be. This is much worse, these—remembrances. He’s as powerless here as he would be in a memory, sentenced to observing the world as it flows  around him. It’s as true as living. And it is all real, once upon another man’s time.

He’s older now than Altaïr was then. Much older, actually, and it has taken time to get used to that. At least now he knows the  man to watch for. The young man, Ezio thinks and shakes his head.

Light fades over the courtyard, soft reds and yellows in the air touching on the occasional white-hooded Assassin passing by him. Ezio walks unnoticed, following worn paths in the stone where others have gone before him. He feels along the chilled wall as though lost. Masyaf is quiet, like his mother’s room had been the morning she died—

Ezio pauses. He doesn’t know what made him think of that, of all things. Memories fill his mind when he is here, catching in his throat like old sorrow. He knows how it will end and it all seems too empty for that, too lost, unchangeable in time. Inescapable, yet so far away.

Nothing he sees here can be changed. It is here and alive under his fingers, but he knows the silent crypt it will become. Has become. Ezio focuses on that, which is as easy as holding the wind in his hands. Is now, not will be.

Yet Ezio is the ghost here. He no longer follows anything or chases anyone. He doesn’t know why he remembers this, if it is memory, so he walks forward. Randomly. Some instinct of his training guides him upward.

A few sentries guard the hall of the Grand Master. Ezio passes them, eyes already raised to where he knows Altaïr will be.

Altaïr has changed from the last time Ezio remembered him. Still young but now exhausted, almost wearied. He sits behind the great desk and is overwhelmed by its size, as though only temporarily inhabiting another man’s place in the world. Ezio walks around the desk and recognizes the gleam of the Apple hidden in a sack at Altaïr’s feet.

A voice below snaps at the sentries to leave and there comes the dusty sound of shuffling footsteps and hushed voices. Ezio checks Altaïr’s reaction first—a shift under the hood, almost raising his eyes from the desk. Listening.

A familiar man in a dark outer robe enters the hall. Has Ezio seen him in another memory? The other Assassins imperceptivity tense and ease away from him as they file out, sheep making themselves inconspicuous to a wolf distracted by more important things. There is a glint in this man's eyes: Ezio has seen that look before, promising trouble to anyone on the receiving end of it. This man is a thinker, and a lifetime spent around thinkers has given Ezio a very healthy respect for that kind of mind. He's concentrating so much on the man's face he doesn't notice for a long time the man has only one arm.

But Ezio does notice—when the man reaches the top of the stairs and hesitates as he sees Altaïr, sees what Ezio saw, something flickering in his face before he squares his shoulders and hides it away. “Altaïr,” he says as he approaches the desk, determination renewed. And, with a hint of a smirk, “Grand Master.”

Altaïr looks at him and stands. “Malik,” he says, and Ezio thinks, ah. The memory settles. Ezio begins to understand. “You know there is no need to address me as—”

But Malik is already behind the desk and wrapping his arm tight around Altaïr’s shoulders. Altaïr freezes, possibly as surprised as Ezio, but he returns the embrace fiercely. The hood bows as he turns his face against Malik's shoulder.

Ezio watches from his quiet place by the wall. Perhaps years ago the sight would have embarrassed him, but he knows what he's seeing all too well now. He knows the hardships and mutual pain people must share to reach this kind of understanding with each other, the kind that goes deeper than words.

A moment like this should be for the old, he thinks and aches for them. As he sees them now they are still young men, and their relief is too fresh, too desperate, come too close to losing everything. Somehow we are alive. I haven't lost you.

Neither of them speaks. They hold onto each other for the longest time.

Malik draws back first, hand on the back of Altaïr’s hood as he pulls him forward and presses a silent kiss to his forehead, and then to a small cut on his cheek, and finally to his mouth. It’s the same gesture each time, only relief and closed lips, and Ezio wouldn’t have thought anything of it. Except when they both pause, and look at each other, and Altaïr very carefully leans forward, angling his lips against Malik’s to kiss him back.

“Oh. Ah,” Ezio says louder, startled into speaking when Altaïr’s hands become lost in the folds of Malik’s robes. Ezio glimpses a flash of tongue as their kiss deepens and Malik draws Altaïr against him on top of the desk. “I wasn’t expecting that,” he says, almost amused, unheard and ignored by everyone else in the room.

Perhaps when he was younger this would have embarrassed him as well, though there is certainly a difference between observing Altaïr in this situation rather than any other. And maybe when he was slightly older than that, Ezio might have even been up to evaluating this legendary Assassin’s performance. But their lovemaking says everything their silence did—except now it’s slow and good, and they endlessly confirm each other in the way they won’t let go for even a moment, the way pleasure and amazement and relief merge in their expressions when they happen to open their eyes at the same time and look into each other. And Ezio can’t say anything more to that.

He finds he can’t move far, but he does look away to give them what privacy he can. They speak to one another in whispers and gentle moans, so very open and alive...

Ezio stops and frowns.

Alive, part of him wants to insist. Real

Something dark and tight spirals down inside Ezio’s chest, and he thinks, No. He has seen the Codex pages himself. Altaïr and Malik have been dead for centuries. Here and now—but this is memory, nothing more than dreaming, and there is no here anymore. They are gone. Only the tombs remain.

Voices speak. Malik murmurs something amused and wry; Altaïr’s response sounds contented, at ease, no longer so weary. Ezio forces himself towards the stairs, deep-rooted instincts buzzing within him. He hears a quiet sigh and can well imagine the hands adjusting their grips, a head resting on a bared shoulder, but he won’t look back. All he must wake up. Wake up, and not look back...

He keeps his eyes trained on the stairs, so he knows he hasn’t yet reached them when it happens. Just before the steps, Ezio’s foot sinks through the stone into emptiness, throwing him forward. A breathless second as the air whispers past his ears, just like the weightless first moment of a leap of faith, and he hears another voice—

“What the hell?”

And just before he hits the kitchen floor, Desmond’s eyes open.

Every one of his muscles clench, his entire body panicking like it doesn’t recognize where it is and desperately wants to escape his skin in every direction at once. Desmond grits his teeth and shudders, letting the sensation pass. He blinks at the view of vertical floor in front of him. Shaun and Rebecca stare at him from the table. “Des, you okay?” Rebecca says.

Desmond peels his face off the floor, slowly, giving reality a chance to disappear first if it wants. It doesn’t. He stands up.

“Yeah,” he answers. “I’m great. Awesome.” He had the good fortune to land in a puddle of water on the floor, overflow from the damaged faucet that continues its steady drip-drip-drip in the sink.

Desmond remembers when that broke, when Shaun pushed one of the handles too hard and busted it, and they spent the better part of three hours soaking wet in the kitchen fixing it—or rather, they made it worse for two hours before Rebecca and Lucy fixed it while Shaun and Desmond hovered uselessly by the sink passing them different sized wrenches. The detail settles Desmond firmly in the here and now.

He pats the damp spot over his stomach as Shaun snorts. “I’m sure. And I suppose you tripped because you just happened to forget about the step into the kitchen that’s only been there since, oh, forever? Ignoring your complete lack of hereditary grace, of course.”

As he’s talking, Desmond takes in their presence. It sort of fills him up knowing that they are both there in front of him, just there, and it’s so simple but it hits him like it’s going to drown him in it. Can emotions Bleed like everything else? Because this is relief. He should glare at Shaun, care a little more about the water dripping down the middle of his hoodie, wonder if Rebecca will want to keep him out of the Animus because of this little episode, but instead he just wraps his arms around both of them when they get up to see how he’s really doing.

Somehow we are alive.

They don’t return the gesture. “Well, this is interesting,” Shaun says to Rebecca out of the corner of his mouth. “I wonder who he thinks we are this time?”

Desmond stands back, holds his hands up. “Just me. Seriously. You’re Shaun, you’re Rebecca. It’s okay, we’re good.”

“Actually, I’m Rebecca—“ Shaun says, before she slugs in him the arm with a, “Come on, Shaun, really?”

This is familiar. He sinks into it, holding on like it could all disappear again in a moment. He knows this. He’s back. The sheer normalcy of…of being not crazy for one second damn near melts over his skin. This episode was definitely longer than thirty seconds, and he isn’t sure he wants to face that just yet. Especially considering it wasn’t only longer, but deeper somehow. Worse.

The faucet continues its slow clockwork drips behind him. It’s the only sound in the quiet kitchen. Something clicks in his head. “Where’s Lucy?”

“Oh man.” Rebecca grimaces. “She isn’t gonna like it when she hears about this.”

“I’m not going to like what?”

Desmond turns and sees Lucy in the doorway, and the relief flares up in him again. He knows this is probably a strange Animus byproduct, some ancestor of his had a good day way back when and here he is centuries in the future paying for it. But he doesn’t care, just thinks, from somewhere far away, I haven't lost you.

He hears her sudden, “Oh!” when he wraps his arms around her and tries to do it right, like if he just holds her tight enough this time it will keep them from disappearing again.

“It’s the Bleeding Effect, isn’t it,” Lucy says, not really asking. Her hand lowers and gently pats his shoulder. “Is...Desmond?”


He stops when he feels it. He even stops breathing for a second, fighting down panic. The damp patch where his hoodie soaked in the puddle clings to his stomach when he holds Lucy, and he tries to pretend that’s all it is. He holds her closer and she says, “Desmond, what is it? Is it coming back?”

Desmond looks over her shoulder, by chance meeting Shaun’s eyes before Rebecca’s. It’s somehow more terrifying to watch the realization in Shaun’s face than it is to feel it in himself as it sets in. Shaun’s expression stiffens, from mild bemusement and that touch of annoyance to alarm, maybe even fear.

“It’s not real, Desmond,” he says, and he’s never seen Shaun’s face look that intense. “Whatever you’re seeing, whatever it is—”

“I know,” Desmond says. Something drips onto the floor between him and Lucy. He forces his eyes open against it but refuses to see what it is. He can feel Lucy’s shirt under one of his hands, and he doesn’t think about the warmth soaking through his clothing where they touch, as though not thinking will keep him safe from it.

Desmond wishes he could reach out to all of them but he won’t—he can’t, can’t let go of Lucy this time. Not this time. This time it might work. He buries his face in her shoulder and tightens his grip. “It gets kind of hopeless sometimes, when you know you can’t change it,” he says. Inescapable, yet so far away.

“Desmond?” Lucy says quietly, worried about him. Still unaware of the wound in her stomach, of what’s falling to the floor between them in time with the leaky faucet. Drip-drip-drip...

“I know,” Desmond says again. He swallows. “I know it’s not real. I know I can’t change it.” He closes his eyes. “But I think I can still try.”

It hurts—his center of gravity flips inside of him in a wrenching pull, and then suddenly his back is to the floor. When he wakes up again, he’s facing where the ceiling or sky would be anywhere else.

Desmond remembers.

And he opens his eyes to Black.

The floor is black. His hoodie's black. His hands are dry, no longer soaked with Lucy's blood. Not just bleeding—Bleeding through. Clean through him until he's raw, right through Ezio, but not to Altaïr yet. Maybe it stops here, in this room. Maybe it doesn't go further.

Not unless he wants it. There must be a place, Desmond thinks. A place everything touches as it soaks through all the way...

All the way to where?

Desmond gets up and walks back into the blackness.

Whereupon some poor descendent of Desmond’s rolls out of the Animus 6.2 and has a stiff drink.
Whereupon the author wakes up and writes a terse letter to HBO because now it’s just getting silly.
...Whereupon you stop reading and close the window because hell with this circus.

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